27 August 2015
Week-old Asian elephant calf Nandita Hi Way plays in mud for the first time

The little youngster, along with five other members of her family, spent around half an hour slipping and sliding in the mud before mum wiped her eyes and ears with her trunk.

Andy Mckenzie, Chester Zoo’s team manager of elephants, said:

The herd often like to play in mud and, on warmer days, it’s a great way for them to cool off. Wallowing in mud also helps to keep the elephants’ skin healthy and they can usually be seen dust bathing in sand and scratching on branches and rocks afterwards.

Our new calf Nandita Hi Way is only a few days old but she’s wasted no time in diving in to enjoy a splash with the others. All of the family really look out for her, and mum Thi in particular is never far away – always there to lend a helping trunk should Nandita need a bit of mud wiping away from her eyes and ears.

Nandita was born on Thursday 20 August to experienced mum Thi Hi Way.

The zoo’s Hi Way family of Asian elephants span four generations and Thi is also mum to Sithami (18), grandmother to Sundara (11) and Bala (2) and great grandmother to Hari (3).

Chester Zoo is part of a breeding programme coordinated by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) that is focused on sustaining a viable elephant population in Europe. The zoo hopes that the recent arrival of Nandita can help raise more awareness of the species which, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), faces a very high risk of extinction.

In the wild, the species is threatened by habitat loss, poaching for ivory and conflict with humans. As their habitat is lost, more animals are wandering into farmed areas causing crop damage, leading to retaliatory hunting by some communities. To help mitigate against this, we sent 12 members of staff to Assam in India earlier this year to work on a zoo project which is helping protect wild elephants and the people who live with them.